This Man Deserves It


For all his fornications, he is guilty.  For his selfish manipulations and lusts, every teenage violation of his future wife, he is unquestionably guilty. 

For all of his anger, his petty hatreds and grudges (which he so often carries deep under his skin, where he thinks no one can see), he is guilty.  The thoughts he sometimes has about people, the nastiness he wages against his fellow humans right there inside his skull, is appalling.  

For the thousands and thousands of lies he has told, too.  Big ones as a child and a young man, lies so ridiculous they’d be laughable if lying weren’t a sin against the God who always tells the truth.  And, as he’s gotten older, subtler ones.  Exaggerations, and little expressions on the face which were calculated to get a response but made to look like genuine emotion.    

And, oh, the pride.  Deep, poisonous, nearly constant pride.  Always believing he is more worthy of his needs being met than another.  Always making allowances for himself that he would never make for someone else.  The quiet belief he nurses in his heart that the reason the fallen brother or sister has tumbled is that he or she wasn’t quite enough like him.  The self-centered, self-focused, self-righteous clamoring for his own reputation, his own pleasure, his own validation without half as much, a tenth as much regard for the well-being of others.  Oh, believe me, this one is proud.  

For the cowardice, the meanness, the vengefulness, this man is irrefutably guilty. No one, not even God Himself can deny that, on his own standing, this Wade Thomas Jr, born at Good Samaritan Hospital in the Year of Our Lord 1985 (and having sinned every year since) is guilty as (and of) sin. 

There is no excuse.  No justification.  He had no valid reason for lust and brazen manipulation and gossip and deceit, he has no just cause for his anger and bitterness and idolatry of heart.  His head is in his hands because he knows this.  There is no defense he can mount.  There is no mitigating factor that will justify his willful, ignorant, faithless, rebellious wickedness.  

None.  He is guilty. 

Ahem.  

And now let this one speak.  

For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you.  For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.  Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.  Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

2 Corinthians 5:13-21

Death is the sentence.  The serpent knew it in the Garden, though of course he lied (he always does).  Sin brings death, the only thing it can bring.  And so death is the sentence for Wade.  Shameful, inglorious, painful and God-forsaken death.  God gave life, sin brings death.  So Wade is owed it.  He merits it.  In at least one sense, he has asked for it.  

The executioner is ready.  The crowd is assembled.  

But the guilty man is not the one to die.  

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Colossians 2:13-14


Every guilt the serpent lays on this man is valid.  He sinned.  He did.  He did rage at his brethren and sin sexually and deceive people and play out his proud hypocrisy in the most sinister of ways.  If he isn’t the chief of sinners, he is certainly a lieutenant.  But here is where the serpent plays into his own undoing:  Since he is the father of lies, he rarely expects the full, undiluted, 80-proof truth.  When God says He loved this man, He really meant it.  And when He pledged from love, right there in that sin-stained Garden, that a son of man would crush this ancient liar’s head, He wasn’t just talking to talk.  

This love from God didn’t hinge on Wade’s faithfulness.  It preceded his faithfulness.  Beyond that, it superceded his unfaithfulness.  This God slew the dragon by being slain, and He gave pardon by taking on punishment.  He undid the sin and death Wade wrought by becoming sin and then dying. 

This God made Wade, gave Him a Law, watched him break it, and then bore the punishment Himself.  He is exactly who He has always claimed to be:  Good, holy, loving, and just.  And the truth will always undo a liar.  And, as the saying goes, it is also quite likely to set free.  

And so while Wade is, in at least one sense, guilty, the charge will not stand.  You cannot punish two men for his crimes.  The debt is real, but it is no longer his.  

The criminal’s cross has already been stained with man’s blood.  And the tomb has already had the body laid in it.  Sin brings death, and death it has brought.  Wade deserves to die, but in this great exchange called the Gospel, he gets to live.  By the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, he has been given unshakeable, eternal life.  

And the guarantee of that gift is that his Jesus Himself did not stay dead.  Look over there, on that hill.  

Like the charges against this guilty man, both cross and tomb are by now quite empty.  

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30 Seconds On Grace

  
Christian, the grace you extend is the grace you really believe in. 

If you do not forgive the sins and mistakes of others, it is because, regardless of what you say, you do not approach God with the posture of one who has been forgiven of wrongdoing.  

Instead, you see yourself as more righteous than those who have wronged or inconvenienced you.  And so, unlike Jesus Christ, who truly was holier than those who wronged Him, you refuse to extend them mercy.  While Jesus spent Himself on His enemies’ forgiveness and rescue, you plant yourself on a throne of judgment and refuse to be gracious.  

What do you really believe about grace?  If you want to know how you really see yourself in relation to God, don’t look at your words.  

Look at how you forgive.  

And this could just as easily be a letter to myself.  

15 Seconds On Eleos

  
Mercy is what founded the church. 

The impenetrable walls of the Kingdom of Christ, the ink of His redemptive Story, is the unmerited love of God.  His inexplicable, unsearchable adoration for His formerly wretched people.  

The power that held back the deep waters of an Egyptian sea for Moses and that killed 185,000 soldiers for Hezekiah runs through the love that brings a dead sinner to faith in Christ.  It is a grace, a mercy, a benevolence that knows no equal.  

We Christians are a people created by the grace of our Father in Christ Jesus.  We are a people borne of the unspeakable compassion of the triune God.  

We are a people of mercy, for we were wrought by a God of mercy.  

4 Thoughts On God and Race

The Holy Spirit spoke through His Word at Velocity Church in the Cincinnati neighborhood of Price Hill today.  Pastor Steve Staton expounded Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 to a gathered group of people who were probably 50/50 black/white.  

And I wrote down a few thoughts.

  • The Gospel of forgiveness for terrible  people through the bloody Cross of Jesus Christ has something to say to every uncomfortable and sin-stained conflict our culture could bubble up.  And in the race-based conflicts that have sprung up in 2016, it does particularly in (at least) this way:  The Gospel produces empathy.    If you do not care about someone else’s pain, whether you end up determining it is wholly justified, partially justified, or unjustified, you are not fully grasping what Jesus did when He forsook His throne to rescue you from your self-inflicted pain and spiritual suicide.  
  • The people of Jesus should lead the way in racial reconciliation, because they have a key ingredient the people of the world lack:  Peace with God.  And true peace with your fellow man flows from peace with your Maker. 
  • Satan loves hate and hates love.  He would have you start by loving your friends and hating your enemies and deteriorate into hating your friends, your enemies, and your God. But in Luke 10, where he was successful in sowing discord between two ethnic Jews and another ethnic Jew, he ran into a brick wall with the heart of an ethnic Samaritan.  This God-changed man of faith spent his cash and his time rescuing a busted and bloody stranger of a different race, having no idea of how the man got to the side of road unconscious.  But of course he knew full well what God has done for him, and so he knew (from the heart) what he was compelled to do for others.  
  • It is a testament to the glory of the beautiful triune God that Heaven’s songs will be sung by every tribe, tongue, and nation.  

45 Seconds On Belief

  
Everyone is living out some system of belief.  The question simply comes down to which one.  Are you living out the belief system that this world and what it has to offer are the best or only prize?  Or do your steps, which always speak better than words about what a person really believes, prove you think God will owe you for your good deeds?  Or is your life a working out of your belief that you are a failure, a mistake, or a reject?

Is your fundamental faith in the worthiness of worldly pleasure, in merit, in your own inadequacies?

Or is it in the mercy of Jesus?

Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.

Luke 18:10-14

The Christian has been given the gift of trusting God’s disposition of kindness towards Him.  He can know he is owed nothing and will inherit everything.  He humbly pleads only the mercy of God, and he expects it, but only on faith.  

He believes that he is a sinner and that the God of Jesus Christ is merciful.  And with those two weapons he is armed against pride and fear.  

We are all treading out the path of some belief system.  It’s just a matter of what it is.  

One that ends in truth and life, or one that ends in deceit and despair.  

30 Seconds for Father’s Day

  
My Heavenly Father, the One who sent His Son Jesus to save selfish people like me, is slow to anger and abounding in rock-steady love.  He always tells the truth.  He forgives the wrongs done against Him.  He gives profoundly beautiful gifts, chief among them His Holy Spirit.  He disciplines me in order to make me the kind of man I’d want to be if I had a heart as good as His.  

Gracious, honest, forgiving, generous, and ready to discipline.  That is my Abba Father.  

And so I have a template for what to be for my three little ones.  

Happy Father’s Day, guys.  

Father.  

The word has meaning because a Father made the world.  My prayer, as I sit outside my house just about ready to go in and give the kids lunch, is that I can, more and more, have the posture towards my children that He has towards His. 

30 Seconds on Why the Universe Exists

  

For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Colossians 1:16-17

One of the most encouraging things we who are Christian have at our disposal is this:  We know why the universe, and everything in it, exists. 

We know creation’s purpose.  

  
God created every atom and force, every soul and idea to glorify His beautiful Son.  And everyone who trusts in that Son gets to glorify Him by enjoying Him forever.  

The universe, this place of lights and sounds and loves and sadnesses is all a stage for the sinner-forgiving, death-defeating, truth-bearing Jesus to be magnified on.  

People want to know why.  Humans want to have an answer to the questions about why they exist and why things happen.  

A real Christian can give the answer.  And if he can do it with the boldness and the mercy and the prayerfulness of the Paul who wrote Colossians, I think he can do it to great good.  

We have Good News to share.  And we have an answer to give.